Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Other King

So i am hanging with some chums of mine who love this Rock Band game. I am not exactly a fan, but I was encouraged when the Beatles version came out. I figured it has to be a step up from listening to my friends sing Journey tunes. And it was. But only marginally better. I still have to listen to people sing that stuff badly. But seeing all those animated, famous Beatles venues like the Cavern and the Ed Sullivan stage was kind of cool. Which brings me to the subject of my entry--Trivia time! Anyone know offhand who opened for the Beatles at Shea Stadium?

It was the legendary King Curtis. What a talent. He was first famous for the sax solo in "Yakety Yak" by the Coasters. Have a listen:

That was one of my favorites as a youngster. By the way, my father in law played with the Coasters in pickup bands when they toured the Southeast. He is quite the coolio. So anyway King Curtis has a really impressive resume. He was the leader of the Kingpins, Aretha's backup band, and is credited by many as the guy who discovered her. He also did these cool covers of pop tunes. He even did a cool soul version of "Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin. But my favorite stuff was some of the early seventies crossover stuff that he did with the ATCO crowd--Delany and Bonnie, Clapton, Duane Allman and some of that Stax records crowd out of Memphis. His band was always hip. Bass player Jerry Jemmott was just a beast. This is from Curtis's album, Get Ready. Trust the Chap and just buy this CD. Here is "Soulin'" with Jerry on bass:Now that is just sick good.

Ok from the same album this is "Teasin'" Along with a bit of Eric Clapton interview talking about how this was one of his favorite recordings he ever made. I can see why.

That was one of my all time favorite songs in High School. Wow. That has Carl Radle and Bobby Whitlock just before Derek and the Dominoes formed.

Ok King Curtis warming up the crowd at Shea Stadium. If you remember, that was possibly the most warmed up crowd of all time.

This next tune is "Instant Groove" from the album of the same name. I still have this on vinyl.

He was very fond of that format of a song--breaking it down. Wise probably. With that much talent in the band, it's good to isolate and feature the members and show what they can do. Here is another example called "Memphis Soul Stew":

That is Cornell Dupree on the guitar in that one. What a soulful tone.

Things did not end well for King Curtis--On August 13, 1971, Curtis became involved in an argument with two men outside his apartment on West 86th Street. One of the men, Juan MontaƱez, stabbed Curtis in the heart. He was taken to Roosevelt Hospital, where he died from his wounds. On the day of the funeral Atlantic Records closed their offices. Jesse Jackson administered the service and as the mourners filed in, Curtis's band 'The Kingpins' played "Soul Serenade". Amongst those attending were Aretha Franklin, Cissy Houston, Brook Benton and Duane Allman. Franklin sang the closing spiritual "Never Grow Old" and Stevie Wonder performed "Abraham, Martin & John and now King Curtis".

If you have a spare buck, King Curtis and Duane Allman playing "The Weight" from the Duane Allman Anthology Vol 2 album is just priceless.